Friday, February 13 2004
Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of time this morning, but I did want to make a quick observation. Kevin Drum has spent weeks speculating on George Bush's National Guard records and linking to documents and articles that suggest, if not outright assert, that there is something embarrassing in them that the President has been trying to hide since before the 2000 election (disciplinary action?, drugs and alcohol?).

Now, for the last few days he's been pushing the story of former National Guardsman Bill Burkett, who claims that back in 1997 he heard his superior officers giving an order to have George W. Bush's National Guard files "cleansed" of any embarrassing information.

All of this is very interesting stuff, but it leaves me with a single, simple question: So which is it? Have Bush's records been "cleansed", in which case there couldn't possibly be any embarrassing information in them, or is the opposite true: that there is something in Bush's files that is, in fact, embarrassing to the President and that's why he's not releasing them fully?

From a theoretical standpoint, I guess it is possible Bush's records could have been "cleansed" but remain somehow embarrassing. Maybe the evildoers bungled the job. Still, that's a pretty thin reed to hang your tin-hat on, don't you think?

Here's the real rub: Drum and friends would respond to this by saying, of course, that the entire matter could be cleared up instantly if Bush just opened up all his files. But given the fact they're now asserting that Bush's records have been scrubbed, that's not really a true statement any more, is it?

In fact, the trap has now been set so the President loses whether he releases his records fully or not. If he does release the files and there is something embarrassing in them - even if that something doesn't contradict his claims of having done his duty - he will be pilloried.

But now if he releases the records and there isn't anything embarrassing in them, the Bush-hating left will shrug their shoulders and say, "well, we knew his files were cleansed anyway" and go right back to assaulting his character and his service. It's a no-win.

As I've said before, the unfortunate thing about this game we're playing is that it doesn't have a single thing to do with making a judgment about the record of this President's first term in office and deciding whether the he should be granted a second term. That is what the election in November is supposed to be about, right? - T. Bevan 7:08 am | Link | Email

Thursday, February 12 2004
I haven't had a chance to go over my notes yet and I don't want to rush into a detailed discussion of George Soros' remarks last night at the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. You can get a pretty good taste of his speech from this Chicago Sun-Times report on his appearance at the University of Chicago earlier in the day.

What I can say about the speech is this: it took place at a huge ballroom at the Fairmont Hotel. The Council had set up to accommodate 1,500 people and by the time Soros took the podium they had run out of seats. It was the largest turnout for a CCFR event in more than 2 1/2 years - and that includes the panel discussions held in the aftermath of September 11.

During Soros' remarks, which lasted about 40 minutes, the crowd broke out into spontaneous applause every time he mentioned the necessity of defeating George Bush at the polls in November - about four times in all if I remember correctly.

Of course Soros was preaching to the choir last night, but the sentiment in the room was unmistakable: these people believe with every fiber of their bodies that the fate of the country and the world hangs on the result of the upcoming election.

That's a powerful motivation that I have yet to see materialize from the other side of the aisle, though I suspect it will as we move closer to November.

But last night's event also helps explain why the Dems have been acting in such frantic (and at times even desperate) ways, and why they're willing to settle on a guy like John Kerry as their nominee. Most of the base couldn't care less about him as a person, a leader, or as someone who represents the values they care about. This year, however, there's only one "value" that counts, and that's the ability to beat George W. Bush.

This is going to be an incredibly contentious election. It already is. But the one other thing I kept thinking last night is how utterly devastated and demoralized the people in that room (and others like them around the country) will feel if they wake up on November 3 and a majority of the country has confirmed that they want George W. Bush to continue as their President for another 4 years. "Apoplectic" doesn't even begin to describe the sort of emotional turmoil liberals will be in if this happens.

And Lord have mercy if Republicans somehow manage a huge night in November, pick up a few Senate seats and significantly increase their chances of getting judges on federal bench and the Supreme Court in 2005. I honestly think we'd start to see some on the left throw in the towel and move out of the country.

Who knows, maybe if conservatives get really lucky this November they could finally get Robert Altman, Alec Baldwin and Barbara Streisand to make good on their promises......

CHECKING THE POLLS: We've updated the state polls page this morning with new polls in NY, TX, WI, and IL. ARG will be releasing an updated poll on Wisconsin tonight.

A new poll shows Stephanie Herseth has a big lead over Republican Larry Diedrich in the SD House special election race.

In Kentucky 6, Survey USA released a poll two days ago showing that Alice Forgy Kerr had closed the gap with Ben Chandler to 6 points, but a new Bluegrass Poll out this morning has Chandler ahead 49.4% to Kerr's 39.6% with 11% remaining undecided.

Closer to home, SurveyUSA released polls yesterday on the IL Senate primary races. With about 5 weeks left until primary day, SurveyUSA shows that Democrat Blair Hull has scooted out to a 10-point lead over Dan Hynes and Barack Obama.

On the GOP side, Jack Ryan continues to lead what has essentially become a 2-man race with Jim Oberweis. (Programming Note: We're in the process of setting up an interview with Ryan right now. Hopefully we'll be able to sit down with him by the end of the month.)

CAPTIONS: Thanks to all who submitted captions for the "Weasel Contest" I initiated a couple of days ago. I've posted many of the responses - at least all of those suited for a family friendly blog like this one, anyway - on a separate page. Enjoy. - T. Bevan 10:35 am | Link | Email

Wednesday, February 11 2004
I didn't really want to get into the nitty-gritty middle of the Bush National Guard story, but I find myself there anyway. After watching the absolutely disgraceful performance by reporters at yesterday's White House press briefing, it looks as if we've now fully entered a vortex of insanity.

Scott McClellan stood at the podium with two new pieces of documentation, released as promised, supporting Bush's claim that he fulfilled his service requirements. Together with his honorable discharge, that makes three pieces of evidence that, at an absolute minimum, refute the AWOL charge against Bush.

It simply didn't matter. The press was completely impervious to the presentation of evidence that might in any way be seen as exonerating the President. They sniffed and sneered at the documents for a few minutes and then went on to obliterate McClellan with questions demanding a level of detail about events 30+ years ago that simply boggled the mind.

I want to address a couple of points specifically. First, one of the main aspects of the National Guard story being cited by the press is the apparent "contradiction" between the records presented yesterday and previous statements by National Guard commanders about Bush's service.

In particular, we're talking about a quote from retired Brig. Gen. William Turnipseed that appeared May 2000 in both the Boston Globe and the Associated Press.

Turnipseed, who was commander of the Alabama National Guard squadron during the time period in question is quoted as saying, "To my knowledge, he [Bush] never showed up."

David Gregory almost popped a vein yesterday demanding that McClellan explain the apparent "contradiction."

It's also worth noting that Terry McAuliffe, who has taken the publicizing of this story (and his position as the leader of a national party) to a new low said yesterday:

"The fact remains that there is still no evidence that George W. Bush showed up for duty as ordered while in Alabama." (emphasis added)

Turns out neither of these things are true; Bush was not "ordered" to report for duty in Alabama, nor does Turnipseed's quote present any sort of conclusive evidence of a contradiction.

I refer you to this article in the Chicago Sun-Times, which says:

"in an interview , Turnipseed states that Robinson's reporting of their conversation (in the Boston Globe in 2000) was either distorted or based upon his misunderstanding of how the military functioned at the time of Bush's service.

Here's a related article from the LA Times:

"If you're interested in his military records," Turnipseed said, "the facts are that he never belonged to the Alabama National Guard. He was never under my command. No one had the authority to order him to do anything. We couldn't cause him to be AWOL or anything else."

And here's more from Turnipseed in today's AP report:

On Tuesday, he [Turnipseed] told the AP that he was not sure whether he was even on the base during the time Bush was assigned there. Moreover, he said: "In 1972, I didn't even know he was supposed to come. I didn't know that until 2000. I'm not saying that he wasn't there. If he said he was there, I believe it. I don't remember seeing him."

So where does all of this leave us? Nowhere new, really. It's just we've now reached a level of intensity and detail on this story that is causing people to 1) forget the initial question and move the goalposts 2) dismiss facts in favor of speculation.

QUESTIONS FOR KEVIN: Kevin Drum has been more or less the ringmaster of the Bush National Guard circus on the web. Yesterday he posted a roundup of developments on the National Guard story, including a link to this lengthy post by Bob Fertik of

Here is what Fertik says about the documents he obtained:

On November 6 [2000] - the day before the election - filed a FOIA request for Bush's pay records and his retirement records, hoping against hope that we would receive an immediate response. That didn't happen; three weeks later, on December 1, we received a fax responding to our FOIA request.

By then the 2000 election was over, and was trying to get to the bottom of a far greater mystery: who actually received more votes in Florida. Amidst the recount frenzy, the FOIA documents were forgotten.

In January 2004, the AWOL issue was suddenly revived - not because of Bush's critics, but because ABC's Peter Jennings challenged Wesley Clark to denounce his supporter Michael Moore for calling Bush a "deserter." Jennings was quickly joined by other media heavyweights, including David Broder and Tim Russert. began publishing follow-up stories, and in the course of our research we discovered the FOIA documents that were forgotten in 2000. As we tried to evalute the significance of these documents, we shared our documents with other Internet researchers. (Emphasis added).

This doesn't even pass the giggle test. Fertik wants us to believe that he was desperately trying to get to the bottom of the Bush National Guard story and when he finally did get a response from the government that included official documentation of Bush's service record he "forgot" it for 3 1/2 years. I find that very, very hard to believe.

Another thing. Drum's original post of the "untorn" ARF document says the following:

"So what is ARF? I asked Bob Rogers, a retired Air National Guard pilot who's been following this for some time, and what follows is his interpretation of what happened."

So who exactly is Bob Rogers? Kevin's rather benign description fails to point out is that Rogers is also affiliated with - or at the very least he's been published on their site. This lengthy piece from October 4, 2000 alleges that the mysterious gap in George Bush's service record was the result of his being grounded for abuse of alcohol or drugs.

Three years later there remains zero evidence to support such a charge, not to mention the fact that even if someone was able to produce indisputable proof that Bush was grounded for a substance abuse problem that still wouldn't merit a charge of AWOL.

So, to summarize, it looks as if Kevin was fed these documents by that were lost for 3 1/2 years and then found earlier this year. Drum then called a person previously published on who was already on record concluding that Bush was grounded back in 1972 for possible alcohol and/or drug abuse to get "his interpretation of what happened". I'd say that's about as far from a disinterested, objective party as you could possibly find to provide analysis.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Fertik is the proprietor of one of the most frothy-mouthed, Bush-hating sites on the web. Don't take my word for it, visit for yourself. Be sure to not to miss this page titled "Bush-Nazi Links", or this special section called "Bush Hatred", or this page calling for the impeachment of President Bush, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. And don't forget to click on this page titled "The Bu$h Record" which contains the following nifty subhead:

"George W. Bush stole the election, and now he is stealing our future. Here are some comprehensive lists of the evil actions of the Bu$h administration."

I don't know Kevin Drum personally, though I've traded a couple of emails with him and I've read and enjoyed his commentary for quite a while. I'm not trying to attack his integrity or suggest that he's been trying to purposefully mislead people.

The point I want to make to Kevin is that this isn't some coffee house parlor game. You're directly attacking and questioning the character of the President of the United States. That's still a big deal in my book, and something to be taken very seriously.

Even worse, you're demanding perfect transparency and absolute accountability from the President for things that happened 32 years ago, yet you aren't fully disclosing details that have a direct bearing on the biases and motivations of the people providing you with information that you're disseminating through your blog.

Why not tell us up front that gave you the documents which were, as you say, available to the public for years under the FOIA? Why not point us to the article by Bob Rogers? Both certainly seem like germane pieces of information that readers would be interested in, if not entitled to, to make informed judgments about this story.

I can only imagine the howls of derision that would come my way if we were to publish documents (regardless of their ultimate authenticity) or quote someone as an expert who came from or was published by some venomous right wing, black-helicopter web site - especially if we failed to mention up front that that's where the information was coming from. We'd be trounced.

I have no idea what the truth is or how this entire affair will ultimately play out. Right now, the way I see it the scorecard reads 2-0 in favor of the President:

Michael Moore called him a "deserter." That was proven to be a slanderous lie.

Many on the left, including the presumptive nominee and the head of the Democratic Party, have charged Bush with being AWOL. That has also been proven to be a lie.

These people owe the President of the United States a public apology.

It looks like we're now in the third set of the match, and the goal now isn't to answer the big, important question of whether Bush fulfilled his service requirements (that has already been answered ) but to find something - anything - to embarrass and discredit the President.

Maybe the press will find something in the end, and maybe it will be damaging to the President politically. I don't know. But I sincerely doubt that whatever they may find in the fall of 1972 or the spring of 1973 will have anything to do with George W.Bush's ability to lead this country in the year 2004 and beyond.

TONIGHT, TOMORROW AND THE NEXT DAY: If you've somehow managed to make it all the way to the end of today's post (there are probably only two or three of you left), I'm going to see George Soros speak tonight at the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. Should make for an interesting blog tomorrow or the next day. And I'll also be posting some of the hillarious captions I received from yesterday's contest (see below). If you didn't submit anything, there's still time left. - T. Bevan 10:40 am | Link | Email

Tuesday, February 10 2004
THE FEILER FASTER PRINCIPLE: Mickey Kaus is not only the architect of the Feiler Faster Principle, he's putting it to good use against John Kerry by collecting story after story demolishing Kerry's claim to be a champion against "special interests." The latest is this pistol-whipping by Jake Tapper at ABC News.

At this rate Kaus will have deconstructed Kerry's phony populism in about a month (even if he has been ridiculing Kerry for quite a bit longer than that).

Poor Bob Shrum. It took him at least five times that long to get Kerry fully dressed up and programmed as a "man of the people."

Here's the big question: after Kaus & Co. are done shredding Kerry's populist image, will Shrum have a backup plan? Is he going to have a strategy to fight off the buyer's remorse that's sure to beset his candidate about six weeks from now? Don't know. - T. Bevan 11:14 am | Link | Email

THE GUARD TWIST: Am I reading this story right? Has a partisan Democrat been in possession of/sitting on exculpatory evidence of President Bush's service in the National Guard for nearly 4 years? Sure sounds that way:

"The Globe obtained both of the documents from a political activist who says he acquired them in December 2000 from the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Colorado. The activist, Bob Fertig, is a cofounder of, a website that has no formal affiliation with the Democratic Party."

How in the heck did someone like Bob Fertig get his hands on these records? If you've ever been to you know it is one of the most viciously partisan sites on the web. Even as we speak they're running a banner ad that blinks "Bush Was Grounded in 1972. Was it for Drugs?" and "Was Bush AWOL for 2 Years? Was it covered up?"

This is an absolutely bizarre twist to a story that just won't go away.

UPDATE: Here's a link to the document itself. It's the same one Kevin Drum posted on Sunday evening. Kevin introduced the document by saying, "Answer: it's real. Here's the untorn version, as delivered to Bob Fertik in response to a FOIA request in late 2000."

Kevin then went on to speculate about what type of service it might have recorded for Bush and what it might mean. There was no explanation of who Bob Fertig (or Fertik) is, what his interest in the Guard story might be, why this document remained out of view for so long, or how it came to Kevin's attention.

Maybe it was one of the documents that the NY Times saw in 2000 which caused them to pronounce the AWOL charge against Bush almost completely without merit. Who knows?

What the document does show, however, is that Bush did serve during the time in question. It's a direct refutation of the AWOL charge.

Now, apparently, the goal posts are moving and we're entering into a new discussion, not whether Bush served but rather the type and "quality" of his service during his time in the Guard.

One last interesting note. If you read further down in the Boston Globe story you find this:

"Fertig called for an independent investigation. Noting that the new documents are contradicted by other public documents, and statements by Bush's Guard superiors, Fertig said the public has a right to know whether Bush received credit for duty he did not perform."

So Fertig has been in possession of a document showing proof of Bush's service record for nearly 4 years and now, all of the sudden as we approach a presidential election it comes to light and his response is to call for an independent investigation? Forgive me for being a tad skeptical of how this thing is developing..... - T. Bevan 10:08 am

NOT SO FAST: Josh Marshall is blowing smoke again, this time about next week's special election in Kentucky 6. He should know better than to try divine national implications from a local election and to suggest that a loss by Alice Forgy-Kerr will be a "major headache" for President Bush and "will be viewed as a sign of his broader political weakness."

Will Republicans be disappointed if they can't hold the seat? Of course. Is the President politically weaker now than he was, say, three months ago? Slightly.

But there are a number of reasons why Ben Chandler is leading this race, none of which have to do with President Bush. Marshall's preemptive attempt to try spin the results of a Congressional election in Kentucky into some sort of harbinger of a national election 8 1/2 months away, well, that's the sort of futile task that should be left to party hacks like Terry McAuliffe.

Last time I checked, Terry was explaining to us rubes why gubernatorial victories in New Jersey and Virginia in 2001 were such excellent indicators for Democrats' success in the 2002 midterms. We all know how that turned out.

WEASEL CONTEST: We never do this, but I'm feeling a bit irreverent this morning and in need of some humor. Thus I can't resist initiating a caption contest for the following picture:

My entry: "Hey Gerhardt, did you hear the one about Saddam and the plastic shredder?"

If you need a little inspiration, read David Ignatius in today's Washington Post. Send your entry by clicking here. Good luck. - T. Bevan 8:36 am | Link | Email

Monday, February 9 2004
: Manuel Miranda, the Republican Senate staffer fired for accessing Democrats' unprotected documents on judicial nominations via a glitch in the Senate computer network, has released a departure statement that is worth reading in its entirety. But here is a tantalizing morsel:

"Almost all the material I came to read was historical and already a matter of record. Some documents, however, recorded collusive, partisan considerations in the confirmation process, and much worse. Only a small amount of these have been made public. The ones made public are the least indicting of the documents I came to see."

Again, read the whole thing. - T. Bevan 6:26pm | Link | Email

UPDATES: We've updated our National 2004 Democrat Poll page as well as added a page tracking the numbers on the Bush v. Kerry match up.

Also, I want to let you know I had to bite the bullet on email this morning and delete about 700 messages. Some of them dated back almost a year. I do my best to respond to as many as I can, but over time it just becomes impossible to keep up. I apologize if your email was one that I wasn't able to respond to, but please know that I do read each and every email and I appreciate anyone who took the time to mail a thought, a kind word, or a constructive criticism.

I still have about 200 left that I'm going to try and work through this week now that I'm feeling better, and moving ahead I'm going to try to devote more time to email so feel free to keep sending 'em through.

A EULOGY: A while back I posted a poignant email from a reader about his father-in-law who lay dying of a brain tumor in a Brooklyn hospital. Sadly, I received another email last week saying that he had passed away.

Here, reprinted with his permission and our sincerest condolences, is Tim Sumner's moving eulogy to his father-in-law:

My wife's father dad died this morning at 4:40 am.

Store Keeper First Class (SK1) Joseph P. Leavey honorably served America in the US Navy in both the Pacific and Mediterranean during World War II. His battle ribbons include those for the North African, Italian, southern France, and Philippine campaigns.

He returned home in 1946 and married his sweetheart Mary.

Together they raised 4 children in the shadow of their church and strong in their faith in God.

My father-in-law retired in 1980 after 27 years as a NY City Transit Police Officer.

He was preceded in death by his only son, Lt Joseph G. Leavey, a 19 year firefighter, who led FDNY's Ladder 15 to the 78th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

Ladder 15 saved a number of people's lives by directing them down the stairs to the elevator they operated and used to shuttle people to the lobby.

All 6 of the Ladder 15 firefighters inside the South Tower perished when the tower collapsed while they were trying to reach those trapped above the plane's impact point.

A hero who was the father of a hero died today. He did not live to see justice brought to his son's murderer.

We who mourn these two men and all those who have fallen in this war, will pass the word to them when that mission is completed.

May God bless them and keep them, and may God continue to bless America.

Amen. - T. Bevan 12:49pm | Link | Email

AL GORE TO THE RESCUE: Thank God for Al Gore. No, really. Yesterday amid all the chatter and punditizing over Bush's Meet the Press interview - much of which was not very complimentary, by the way, but we'll get to more of that in a minute - here comes Big Al, screeching that George W. Bush "betrayed" the country.

Chris Suellentrop of Slate described Gore's speech to Tennessee Democrats last night as one "angry, sweaty shout "and another example of Gore trying to "convince the world that Bush is one of history's worst presidents."

According to Suellentrop, here is what Gore said:

"I think there were millions just like me, who genuinely, in spite of whatever partisanship they may have felt prior to that time, genuinely felt like they wanted George W. Bush to lead all of us in America wisely and well.

And the reason I'm recalling those feelings now is because those are the feelings that were betrayed by this president! He betrayed this country! He played on our fears! He took America, he took America on an ill-conceived foreign adventure dangerous to our troops, an adventure that was preordained and planned before 9/11 ever took place!

And so I say to you in closing my friends, in the year of 2004, the truth shall rise again!"

I'm afraid the truth is going to have a pretty hard time finding its way out of such ridiculous partisan crap.

But back to the good news for George W. Bush. In many ways, the arc of Al Gore's career perfectly mirrors the transformation of the Democratic party over the last two decades: Gore started as a conservative member of the House, moved a little to the left during his tenure in the Senate, a little bit further to the left as Bill Clinton's vice-president, went way left as a presidential candidate in 2000 and in the last two years since 9/11 Gore's proven himself to be a far left fever swamp dweller.

All I can say is, "keep it up." Please. The Democratic party looks increasingly like a junkie strung out on Bush-hating drugs. They have no vision for the future, are unable to articulate any serious policy alternatives, and now live only for the next high, which usually comes in the form of slanderous, ad hominem attacks on the President like the one Al Gore delivered last night. Or the ones channeled through groups like

Hence the base's utter indifference to John Kerry as a person, as a candidate, and to his current and past positions on the issues. The party's hollowness is summed up neatly by the breathtaking banality of their current call to arms: "Anybody but Bush."

This is the first presidential election in America since three thousand of our fellow citizens were killed by terrorists on our own soil and Democrats are coming to the country with the message "anybody but Bush." Um, okay.

Such a blatantly shallow message may work if Iraq goes badly and the economy stops producing jobs. But if not,this November John Kerry and his fellow Democrats could find themselves standing in the middle of a gunfight holding a pocketknife.

THE GUARD: The main reason Terry McAuliffe, John Kerry, and many liberal blogs have taken to regurgitating the "Bush was AWOL" charge with such verve is because they know they can't beat the president arguing national security policy so they have to try discredit him personally. Frankly, I find it to be a bit on the scummy side.

As I've written before, I'm not such a Kool-Aid drinking Bush supporter to be completely closed off to the idea that Bush may have missed a few meetings in Alabama while serving in the National Guard.

But as things stand now - and as they've stood for the past three years - the facts don't support an AWOL charge against the President, no matter how much you may love or hate him.

Because if you take a step back and think about this for a second, even if you grant Kevin Drum and Josh Marshall their worst case scenario against Bush - that he blew off Guard duty for an entire year and then crammed at the end to fulfill his requirement before heading off to business school - there really is no getting around the fact that Bush did indeed fulfill his service obligation and received an honorable discharge from the National Guard. That fact alone makes the AWOL charge a scurrilous one.

Let's assume for the sake of argument the truth lies somewhere in the middle; that Bush reported to duty in Alabama a couple of times and the records got lost along the way, but also that he did miss some service during that year.

Unless you're willing to challenge the veracity of Bush's discharge then Kevin, Josh and the rest are left trying to prove the unprovable, all the while ignoring the only salient fact (Bush's honorable discharge) in order to trade in speculation and innuendo that casts aspersions on Bush's character.

I hate to say it but, I'm sorry, this seems like Vince Foster territory to me: "I know we've got the police report, the note, and the independent investigation saying it was a suicide, but you know the press hasn't been doing their job and if they would just look at Hillary's phone records or......"

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there is something in Bush's service record and the bloggers I've mentioned are performing an invaluable service by helping bring it to light. If so, then even though I'm uncomfortable with how they've gone about it, I may have to say the ends justify the means.

But if they can't produce proof or come up with anything more than endless streams speculation over the next 8 months then they will have performed a great injustice to the President and to their readers. And they may also help reinforce the notion among some that the blogosphere is nothing more than an online rumor mill. That would be most unfortunate.

BUSH ON MTP: Some thought he did well, some not so well. I thought the President did a decent job, but I think he suffered yesterday from not being eloquent enough to make his case as well as it could have been made. During the interview I kept thinking to myself, "if Bill Clinton were in the same exact situation making the exact same argument, he'd be knocking it out of the park." Bush could only hit a single.

My main gripe is that the President didn't make a strong enough case in defense of the nature of the intelligence he received. If I had been advising the President, I would have suggested he say something like this:

"Tim, you know, intelligence gathering is a difficult business. The United States government strives every single day to produce the best intelligence it can and every administration tries to make the best judgments it can based on that intelligence.

Is the intelligence business infallible? Of course not. Some of it is correct, some incorrect, and some in between. But we have to take it all together, as a body of evidence to make our decisions.

Let me give you an example. In the months prior to September 11 we picked up some very vague "chatter" from various places on possible terrorist activities. Looking back, we also see now that there were scraps of information floating around different agencies of the CIA and FBI regarding some of the hijackers.

Was all of the intelligence out there true? No. Some of it was and some of it wasn't. But looking back we know now that there was a grave threat to America gathering right within our own borders that resulted in the death of more than 3,000 of our fellow citizens.

My job as President is to work as hard as I can and take whatever steps are necessary to prevent such an event from happening again and to make America safer.

And let me say, sitting down to look at the intelligence reports on Iraq and Saddam Hussein after September 11 - years worth of evidence not only from our government but from other governments around the world as well as the United Nations - there was no question in my mind or the mind of any of the members of my administration that Saddam represented a serious threat to America the world. So we acted. And we did the right thing."

I just think using a pre-9/11 example makes the argument much more powerful and blunts one of the major criticisms coming from the left. I'd be willing to bet most Americans only wish now the administration had "cherry picked" intel from the FBI on the September 11 hijackers. - T. Bevan 8:16 am | Link | Email

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Archives - 2003
12/22-28 | 12/15-21 | 12/8-14 | 12/1-7 | 11/24-11/30 | 11/17-11/23 | 11/10-11/16 | 11/3-11/9 | 10/27-11/2 | 10/20-26 | 10/13-19 | 10/6-10/12 | 9/29-10/5 | 9/22-28 | 9/15-9/21 | 9/8-9/14 | 9/1-9/7 | 8/25-8/31 | 8/17-8/24 | 8/11-8/16 | 8/4-8/10 | 7/28-8/3 | 7/21-7/27 | 7/14-7/20 | 7/7-7/13 | 6/30-7/6 | 6/23-6/29 | 6/16-6/22 | 6/9-6/15 | 6/2-6/8 | 5/26-6/1 | 5/19-5/25 | 5/12-5/18 | 5/5-5/11 | 4/28-5/4 | 4/21-4/27 | 4/14-4/20 | 4/7-4/13 | 3/31-4/6 | 3/24 - 3/30 | 3/10 - 3/17 | 3/3-3/9 | 2/24-3/2 | 2/17-2/23 |
2/10-2/16 | 2/3- 2/9 | 1/27 - 2/2 | 1/20 -1/26 | 1/13-1/19 | 1/6-1/12 | 12/31/02-1/5/03

Archives - 2002
12/23-12/29 | 12/16-12/22 | 12/9-12/15 | 12/2-12/8 | 11/25-12/1 | 11/18-11/24 | 11/11-11/17 | 11/4-11/10 | 10/28-11/3 | 10/21-10/27 | 10/14 -10/20 | 10/7-10/13 | 9/30-10/6 | 9/23 -9/29 | 9/16-9/22